Greek Islands Postcards
holiday travel guides to the islands of Greece
Greek island holiday offers 2014
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Independent holiday guides to all the main Greek islands and beach resorts as well as travel information and holiday offers from tour companies and Greek hotel owners. We try to keep it all up to date but with so many islands it's not easy. Please email Greek Islands Postcards about any inaccuracies and we will correct them as soon as we can.
As an antidote to the usual gushing Greece holiday brochures we offer a more prosaic peek at holiday travel in the Greek islands with unbiased reports and independent guides to the best Greek beaches.
Our Popular Greek islands list those in greatest demand. They usually have their own airport and plenty of tourist attractions.
The Peaceful islands tend to be off the main tourist trail and, while some have larger airports, others may need a ferry journey to reach them.
The Sleepy islands are well off the tourist track and may only be reached by ferry, with some a considerable distance from the nearest large airport.
Our Offbeat islands are mainly for those seeking a more remote and authentic Greek islands holiday.
Greek Island museums stay open longer
Holiday visitors to the Greek islands will be able to spend more time soaking up the history and culture this year. The Greek Ministry of Culture is to extend the opening hours of 33 of the biggest museums and archaeological sites from April until late October in an attempt to attract even more visitors. It follows a sharp 30% rise in visitor numbers to museums, monument and ancient ruins across the Greek islands last year. Important cultural sites will open 8am to 8pm over the summer season and include the Acropolis in Athens, Olympia in the Peloponnese, Knossos in Crete, archaeological sites on the islands of Delos and Spinalonga and the Akrotiri site on Santorini. With record number of tourist arrivals forecast for 2014 tour companies have been urging the Greek authorities to extend opening hours.
Featured Greek beaches
Serried ranks of sunbeds line the sand and shingle beach at Lardos with the coastal area dominated by all-inclusive hotels while inland lies the old traditional Greek village with a shady square edged by tavernas and cafes.
Kanapitsa is a long and narrow stretch of fine sand backed by reeds and scrub with walking nearby over the wooded Kalamaki peninsula. One of the less crowded beaches of Skiathos Kanapitsa has a cantina and watersports.
Agios Petros is a long beach of sharp sand, backed by low sand dunes, between Gavrio and Batsi with an inland village of the same name where a watchtower that overlooks the coast is said to date from the 4th century BC.
Seaplane services get a little closer
Plans to link the Greek islands with fast seaplane services by the summer of 2014 are well under way. Permits look set to be given to launch hydroplanes from island ports at Corfu, Crete, Zante and Skyros. Permits will pave the way for port authorities to lease the rights to operate seaplane services. The Greek government says the new water airports will create a new market for tourism and transport between the islands with a seaplane airport network right across Greece. It means holiday visitors should soon be able to island hop by seaplane, helping to open up many of the smaller, more remote Greek islands to tourism. The first attempt to start a seaplane network in 2005 got bogged down red tape but the Government is keen to relax regulations this time in a bid to get inter-island seaplane flights off the ground, or water in this case.
Popular Greek sights
The nature park, near Volimes, has 125 acres of woods and wildlife with nature trails and about 400 stone walls and some stone-built stables and warehouses. The park is open all year with free guide books for visitors.
Greek roads have improved greatly in recent years but potholes and loose gravel are still dangerous hazards. Greece has one of the highest accident rates in Europe - partly the roads, mainly the Greek drivers.
The patron saint of Corfu, Agios Spiridon, has a magnificent church in the old town with good frescos and excellent icons. The Venetian-built church dating from 1589 has the highest bell tower of any church on Corfu.
Scuba diving off the Greek Islands got a new lease of life when diving bans were lifted. Now Greek scuba dive centres are springing up everywhere to meet the demand. Until recently, diving was limited to just a few Greek island dive sites in order to protect the ancient underwater treasures that lie beneath its seas. Now scuba diving is allowed pretty much everywhere in Greek seas with just a few prohibited sites. The result has been a sharp rise in the number of Greek Island diving centres. In choosing one for your holiday be sure to check that instructors are PADI qualified and the wise will take out specialist scuba diving insurance just in case. That said, the crystal clear waters of Greece are teeming with marine life and there are some spectacular caves and shipwrecks for Greek Island visitors to explore.
Planning ahead has always been a headache for those who like Greek island hopping on the extensive ferry system. Summer timetables were never published before May making it hard work to plan a Greek holiday on more than a couple of islands. This year is different. Ferry companies got together and agreed to release summer routes and schedules at the end of last year. The move makes it possible for Greek holiday enthusiasts to cash in on holiday discounts for booking cheap flights early safe in the knowledge that they will not find themselves stuck on an island for days trying to find out when the next ferry sailing is scheduled. The much-welcomed move, along with newly launched seaplane services, should help boost visitor numbers to the Greek Islands even more this year and extend the Greek holiday season.
Every holidaymaker likes to swim and sunbathe on a clean beach, safe beach. So it's good to know that the Greek Islands picked up no less than 393 Blue Flag awards for its clean beaches this season. Greece is now second only to Spain for the cleanliness of its holiday beaches. Among the leading Greek islands for clean beach awards are Crete (38) and Corfu (35) while the mainland coast of Halkidiki also landed a total of 35 Blue Flags. Other Greek holiday islands lifting clean beach awards this year include Rhodes (20), Thassos (10), Kefalonia (9) and Lefkas (6 )and Kos (5). To fly a Blue Flag a beach must meet 32 strict criteria on seawater quality, cleanliness, safety and the environment. Greece is now second of 49 countries worldwide awarded Blue Flags at 3,103 beaches and 626 marinas.
There are more than 6,000 Greek Islands but most are just lumps of rock. Only around 230 are inhabited and about 80 have a population over 100. About a dozen are major holiday destinations with another 20 having substantial tourist visitors. There are six basic island groupings: the Ionian lie to the west and contain holiday islands of Corfu, Lefkas, Kefalonia and Zante. The Cyclades are found in the central Aegean and include Mykonos and Santorini as well as lesser visited islands like Paros and Naxos. To the east are the Dodecanese and major islands like Rhodes and Kos as well as smaller ones such as Symi and Patmos. To the northeast is the Sporades group which includes Skiathos and the north Aegean group of Samos, Lesvos and Thassos. To the south is Crete - big enough to be on its own.